Psychology graduate turns soapstone carving into thriving business

Friday December 15 2017

Damaris Nyamboke of Sky-Art Décor. PHOTO | COURTESY

Damaris Nyamboke of Sky-Art Décor. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By BENSON MACHARIA
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Damaris Nyamboke, 25, applied for employment in dozens of corporate offices but with no success.

The discouraged Psychology graduate then decided to leave Nairobi for her home town in Kisii to figure out what do next. It was there that she got the idea to pursue one of her childhood hobbies: carving soapstone.

“Art was my hobby while in school, and I occasionally engaged in competitions,” she says.

Fortunately, she only needed a few tools to start the business since soapstone is readily available in Kisii.

When Damaris sold her first few pieces to a local business owner, she purchased additional working materials and partnered with two of her friends, Neddy Lusimbo and Justinah Kathambi to form Sky-Art Décor.

They decided to move to Nairobi to reach a wider market and as luck would have it, the business thrived.

With skills from her Psychology degree she was able to interact with clients and convince them to become regular customers.

She also markets her business on social media. The cost of their art pieces ranges between Sh500 and Sh20,000.

CUSTOMISED ART

One of the biggest challenges she faces is creating unique items for each client. Damaris says her clientele is diverse and everyone wants a unique product:

“We serve corporate businesses, hotels, churches, college students and pensioners. Most of them come to us looking for art pieces for their own homes, offices or gifts to loved ones.

“However, almost all of them customers will want a customised piece of decoration. That is often the most challenging part because you have to research and travel to see what else you can offer them.”

She notes that another challenge they face is lack of purchase of customised products. According to her, Kenyans do not appreciate artwork as much as other countries do, but there are still massive opportunities for the industry to grow.

Her word of advice to graduates who may be job searching but have had no luck? "Don't focus all your energy on getting a corporate job. Identify what you love doing and try make it into a business. Passion is all that counts."